This fascinating teen novel about two girls in World War II is a story of friendship and courage unlike any other story I’ve read about this era.
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth E. Wein
ISBN: 978 0 385 67654 0
This story starts out with how a working class girls became a pilot and how two friends came together, one of whom we figure out is the narrator, who is writing an account of everything she knows for her Nazi captors. She spins out their story, dropping in little details here and there that might be useful, and talks about how she is despised by the other prisoners as a collaborator, but could not longer take the torture. Through her narrative, we learn how she came to work for Britain’s Special Operations, and how her best friend came to be flying the plane that crashed in Germany while trying to deliver her. It’s interspersed with shreds of information about where she is being held and how she is treated, and once you get into it, it’s riveting, and owes much to its wonderful narrative style.
The second part of the book is written by the best friend, and contains her account of going down with the plane and being aided by a secret circle of the French Resistance, who she is helping to carry out the plan that the captive should have been putting into action. This piece fills in some of the gaps from the first document, puts it into context, and tells us more about the girl who is writing for the Germans. Together, they form a compelling and lovely story of heroism and friendship that is a wonderful read and full of new perspectives as the narratives layer things on and create some twists as we read along.
There is a story that naturally contains some talk of torture, of killings, of the unpleasantness of war, and it is certainly a teen novel. I think it’s worth noting, though, that none of this is dwelled upon more than necessary, nor is it sensational. And I hate to do it, but I’m adding a spoiler, so read no further if you don’t want to know about it! One of the friends dies at the end – in a way that she would prefer to the alternative before her, but still, it is a character we’ve grown attached to, so it’s something you might want to know about, but this book is definitely a great read and beautifully done, even if it may reduce a reader to tears toward the end.